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Parsha [Passage of Scripture] Nugget [Precious Idea] Kedoshim – Leviticus 19:1-20:27
Searching for perfection is usually counterproductive. Fear of failure prevents people from taking action. After all, if they make mistakes they aren’t perfect. But striving for perfection can be beneficial in one area of life. Parshas Kedoshim explains:
…you will love your fellow as yourself… (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:18)
This Sabbath’s parsha list many mitzvahs from practical to religious. Each gives you a way to improve your relationship with G-d. They include respecting parents and elders, giving charity to the poor, being honest in business, observing the Sabbath, not dabbling in the occult, not taking revenge, and forbidden relationships.
“This is the great rule of the Torah” - Rabbi Akiva
How realistic is it for G-d to insist we love other people as much as we love ourselves? Isn’t the Torah hopelessly naïve to demand such selflessness? The Sages say you should act as if you love others. Such behavior will eventually transform your emotions.
The Tanya, a classic work of Chassidic mysticism, teaches that you must put aside physical matters and focus on the spirit. By concentrating on a person’s soul you may truly come to love him. Too often people are preoccupied with a person’s appearance, the sound of his voice, how she dresses, or annoying habits. None of these physical concerns embody the essence of a person. Superficialities do not emanate from the soul.
People say someone has a good soul. Do they really have the depth of insight to view a person’s core? Does it make sense to suggest that someone has a weird or annoying soul? Habits can be described this way, but a person’s core, the soul? It’s a spark of the Creator in each of us. It is perfect.
Be Perfect at Recognizing Someone’s Essence
What is the practical result of this philosophy? Suppose you know someone who rubs you the wrong way. You have two choices.
- Let your irritation rise to the point where you think the person is a monster.
- Counter your exasperation by telling yourself that perhaps the person is like Shrek, an ogre on the outside but with a heart of gold.
If you’re honest you’ll realize some people dislike you for external factors. Yet you believe you’re good. If you want to receive the benefit of the doubt, shouldn’t you offer it others?
To be perfect, look beyond people’s superficialities. Engage with them soul to soul. Love your fellows as yourself. A simple change of perspective will help you be perfect and improve your relations with family, friends, and strangers.
How do you view people? Please comment below.
Every year beginning on Simchas Torah, the cycle of reading the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, ends and begins again. Each Sabbath a portion known as a sedra or parsha is read. It is named after the first significant word or two with which this weekly reading begins.
What verse in the Old Testament would you like to know more about? Ask a question and I will answer it in a future Parsha Nugget!